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Whilst most of us like to celebrate the New Year with a glass of Champagne and some fireworks, other countries do things a little differently. Erin Hushon explores some of the world’s weirder NYE traditions…

The new year is upon us again and hasn’t this year just flown by! I’ve personally made the leap from school to university, passed my driving test and survived the supposedly “unlucky year”. Whilst you probably recognise the generic traditions associated with the New Year (such as the ball dropping in Times Square or the 12 grapes in Spain), here’s a few you might not be so familiar with…

Ireland – Mistletoe leaves are placed under pillow to find a husband

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This is not only believed to find the single ladies their happily-ever-after, but also to rid women of bad luck…at least, according to Irish culture.

Philippines – Wearing polka dots

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Okay yes, this sounds like an odd one. Still, Filipinos believe that wearing polka dots and only eating circular shaped food is linked with coins and wealth – or, in other words, prosperity.

Chile – New Year celebrations at the cemetery

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This is not just odd, it’s a little bit creepy too. In the small town of Talca, the residents spend their night with all their relatives – including those who have passed away. The cemetery is opened at 11pm with classical music and dim lights because Chileans  believe that they should start the new year with all the family. This tradition only started recently (1995) but I see how families would want to be with their loved ones on New Year’s Eve- even if it does seem a bit grim.

Ecuador – Burning scarecrows

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Similar to what England does for bonfire night, families create their scarecrows and on New Year’s Eve they are burnt outside their homes. This tradition  represents the destruction of all the negative things that have happened in that year. It is believed that the scarecrows help ‘scare’ away the bad luck  for the next 12 months.

Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia – Wear colourful underwear

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Along with other South American Countries, the New Year’s tradition here is to wear colourful underwear. The underwear supposedly catches good fortune for the new year; red underwear represents a lucky love life, whilst yellow is the desire for wealth. This tradition confused me – do they just wear underwear? Or can they wear other clothes? Surely you don’t want everyone knowing your New Year’s wish?
New Year’s Eve has thousands of traditions. Why not use the end of 2013 to think of some odd ones for your family and friends. Who knows, some country could even end up replicating them.